Welcome to my Stories page!

Here you will find stories and my reflections on life, its joys and challenges, relationships, travel, the world out there, the world within, my trauma recovery and healing, creativity, etc, etc, etc. I welcome your comments!

A Poem for Peculiar People Day

You know what today is?

National Peculiar People Day.

Do you qualify to celebrate? I do, just enough. So I wrote this poem:

 

Peculiar People Day

 Pretending to drink scotch with a wax-man in Scotland.

Pretending to drink scotch with a wax-man in Scotland.

Today is Peculiar People Day

I'm thrilled to have one come my way!

So often I feel a bit out of place,

And now I know theres more than enough space...

 

For peculiar ones, yes, we goofy galore!

We notice things others completely ignore.

Like bright little flowers growing out from a rock.

The shape of a cloud, the geese in a flock.

 

 Near my flat in London. Life finds a way.

Near my flat in London. Life finds a way.

We might seem straight laced

And that’s all you see, 

If only you knew

What’s inside of me!

 

We do quirky things,

 Skydiving over Stonehenge, England. Yes, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. So. Much. Fun.

Skydiving over Stonehenge, England. Yes, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. So. Much. Fun.

Right out of the air,

We may have tattoos

About everywhere.

 

Peculiar, eccentric, a little bit strange,

You’ll find us across the whole wide range.

Embrace us, love us, just as we are,

For our spirit and spunk are as bright as a star.

 Singing with "Elvis" in London.

Singing with "Elvis" in London.

 

Be curious, open your heart, go wild!

And discover your inner peculiar child.

Diversity rounds out the lives we share,

Don’t be afraid, get on out there.

 

Happy Peculiar People Day!

If you'd like to read more of my poems, you can find them in this post.

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Those Brown Stains on My Sheets Are Chocolate and Other Observations from This 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge

Do you ever experience a phrase, song, or idea that keeps going around in your head?

I know the song replaying is called an earworm. Wikipedia adds that, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, it is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.

Not sure about the phrase or idea replaying. I'd call it a broken record, but in this day of CDs, many people wouldn't get the reference. Then again, I've heard that vinyl is making a comeback.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was eating chocolate in bed and a few bits ended up on the sheets, unnoticed by me until laundry day. Into my mind pops the words "Those brown stains on my sheets are chocolate." I laugh out loud, which my brain must love, because it keeps repeating those words. Again and again. Finally, I give in, thus the title. Maybe I will be left in peace now.

And while I'm on the subject, a number of other observations have popped up and demanded out.

So.

Here they are, in full glory, some quirky and not so quirky observations of these last 30 blog-writing days.

  • Those brown stains on my sheets really were chocolate. Really.
  • When I woke up this morning and saw snow, I thought to myself, "Finally. Summer is REALLY over!"
  • I can't figure out why the font size arbitrarily changes in spite of its setting. And I'm ok with that.
  • It is not necessary to have sheets on my bed to sleep well if I'm tired enough. The mattress and duvet are quite nice on their own.
  • I easily entertain myself: for example I made a meme of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry saying "Go ahead punk. Make my meme." Every time I think of it I giggle. I'm giggling now.

 


  • Mailchimp, my email subscriber software, has a cheeky user interface that I always fall for when I send out an email.
Mailchimp High Fives.png

I DO revel in my moment of glory, and I ALWAYS return the chimp's high five. Helloooo... it's computer software!

I don't care! It never fails, and I always smile. 


  • I upgraded my iPad to the iPad Pro JUST so I could have the Apple Pen. Merry Christmas to me!
  • Microsoft OneNote rocks. The anal retentive creative's dream app for online organizing.
  • Writing the blog is the easy part. Adding photos and publishing and posting and sharing etc are the bits that take time. I actually have a checklist (reference previous observation) to ensure I've completed all the steps.
  • I love mandalas and swirls so much, they're showing up outside my house.

  • HuffPost Contributor Platform pooped out before I did. Note to self: figure out what's up with that.
  • This challenge has actually been a great experience... and it wore me out! Lots of staying up past my bedtime. I was so exhausted one night I found myself typing my email address and ending it with .coma. I'm serious, this is true.

How do you entertain yourself? Better still, what is the quirkiest phrase/idea that keeps going around in your head? I really want you to share in the comments below, because I know I'm not the only one with experiences like this.

Here's to successfully accomplishing my goal of 30 blogs in 30 days. Woo hoo!

I'd open some champagne to celebrate... except that I just want to crawl into bed. 

With my mattress and duvet.

Night night!

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Maitri: Unconditional Loving Kindness

Do you ever feel so tired that you just can't muster the energy to do what you intended to do?

More importantly, do you reach out for help and support when you need it?

I'm exhausted right now and I have a blog to write. And, I'm asking for support and it's showing up from the most unlikely source. My cat Maitri has offered to write my blog for me, and I have accepted. One thing you should know - she calls me by my nickname, Nettie.

Over to you, Maitri.


Thanks Nettie. By the way, this blog is dedicated to Zoe, who loved Annie and Craig with all her heart. You are missed!


Ok. Think 2012. Middle East. Doha, Qatar. The hot desert. Where I was a little baby kitty, all on my own. Someone was kind enough to rescue me and get me to the vet for care and fostering. Thankfully, I was socialized early enough in my life that I could be offered for adoption.

Nettie likes to tell the story of how I literally fell into her hands that day. She had brought in her other cat, Lucy (a beautiful and shy but sweet tuxedo kitty), adopted a week previously, for her follow up checkup.

As Nettie passed the cage I was in, the latch opened all on its own (ok, it may have had something to do with me pushing on it from the inside - I'm quite clever). I started to tumble out, and she instinctively reached to catch me in her hands. I was so tiny at the time it was a perfect fit.

All she had to do was look at me, my one blue and one hazel eye staring back at her brown eyes. She took in my adorable face and completely white fur, and these words came out of her mouth with a loving smile:" Oh, you are definitely coming home with me."

And I did. That day! 

Lucy, decidedly unhappy with my arrival, stayed behind a curtain for the first twenty four hours. Eventually she found that we could share the same space and even showed me the ropes a bit.

I had found my forever home.

One thing Nettie noticed straightaway was that I didn't respond to sounds like normal kittens. So she did a little testing, like calling my name and clapping her hands. No reaction. At my follow up appointment with the vet, her suspicions were confirmed.

I was deaf. Nettie said, "Oh, she'll never hear me call her name." And the vet said, "That's ok. She'll be able to read lips." Silly vet.

But Nettie was a bit sad, because she purposely had chosen the name Maitri, which is a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional loving kindness. And now I would never hear it.

She decided to write a poem in her journal about her feelings and experience:


I adopted a kitty - named Maitri

A sweet little white ball of fur

Unconditional loving kindness

Is what I had in mind for her

 

Her eyes, one blue and one hazel

Search my eyes and connect, so I think

With deep concentration she watches

Then pokes mine before I can blink

 

I'm sad as I think of her deafness

She'll never know to come when I call

Yet now as I cry in my grief-ness

She appears, loving kindness and all

 

Her playfulness-goofiness delight me

It's so good to laugh out loud

Her softness and tinyness quiet me

She's Maitri, loving kindness avowed


Isn't that cool? That I don't have to hear my name to be my name?

There's so much more I want to share with you, but Nettie really wants to get to bed. So I'll wrap it up with two calls to action for all humans who are reading this:

Come follow me on Instagram @maitri_memweowr, and learn more about me and my escapades at http://www.abundanceart.com/all-about-maitri

Unconditional loving kindness to all!

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Two Truths and a Lie

Have you ever heard of the game called Two Truths and a Lie?

Two truths and a lie for blog copy.png

It's often used as an icebreaker at team building or social activities where people do not know each other. Here's how it works:

You prepare three statements about yourself in your mind. Two of them are true and one is a lie. Then, taking turns, each person speaks their statements. It's up to the group to determine which statement is a lie. Keep in mind that these people and their life stories may or may not be known to the others playing the game.

Those who are savvy know to make the lie believable and the truth unbelievable.

Like the time years ago my brother said he practiced Bickram yoga. We knew he did yoga, so we said ok, that's the truth. Alas, it was the lie. He practiced Vinyasa yoga. Smartass.

See how it works? Think you want to play? What would your two truths and a lie be?

I've always enjoyed playing, yet in my early days, I struggled a bit with what I would say, wishing I had something remarkably unusual to share as a truth that people would think was a lie.

Truth can be stranger than fiction. As I look back over my life, especially the last ten years, I am blown away by the blessings and diversity of experiences I've had. And I look forward to many more. Life is good and it keeps getting better. 

So, you tell me… which of these are truths and which is the lie? 

  • I am an OR nurse with about 20 years experience
  • I have five sisters and two living brothers
  • I am an award winning belly dancer
  • I had dinner with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • I performed the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London
  • My favorite food is fresh squeezed orange juice
  • I was married for almost 23 years
  • I lived and worked in the Middle East for a year
  • I am an international volunteer
  • I lived and worked in London for four years
  • I am fluent in French
  • I can play the piano
  • I have trekked through the Sahara Desert, the lower Himalayan Mountains below Annapurna, and across the Jordanian Desert to Petra
  • I worked in Healthcare Informatics for about 15 years
  • I attended sunrise service Easter Sunday at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
  • My favorite color is blue
  • I own my own business
  • I am an expert haggler
  • I went sky diving over Stonehenge
  • I am an artist and writer
  • I have traveled to more than thirty countries
  • I have three cats
  • I have moved six times in the last ten years

Now, seriously, I want to play.

With you.

In the comments.

This will be fun!

Your job is to guess which one of my entries is the lie. ( I know, I have lots more that three entries. But I've been waiting my whole life for this!!!)

Then type your two or more truths and a lie and let us guess which is the lie. Keep it clean

But don't do it like this: My two truths are 1) blah blah blah and 2) blah blah blah, and my lie is 3) blah blah blah. Keep it clean

Do it like this: 1) blah blah blah, 2) blah blah blah, 3) blah blah blah. Keep it clean.

Then let us guess. Did I mention keep it clean?

Let the game begin!

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A Bit of Heaven in 2011

With all the reminiscing about Costa Rica this week, it came to me that I want to share the year 2011 with you. A unique year, mostly a personal sabbatical to more fully immerse myself in my trauma recovery and explore my creative side. And travel. Oh boy, and travel. Other things happened in my life that year, such that each month developed its own character. Having begun the year painting, by year's end I had decided to paint a mandala filled with mandalas, one for each month.

It's helpful to know that, back in 2009, when my world was crashing around me, I came up with an acknowledgement and intention:

  • Not so fine in 2009.
  • Alive again in 2010.
  • A bit of heaven in 2011.

The years 2009 and 2010 are stories for another time... suffice to say there was a LOT of darkness, fear, and anxiety in my life, and by late summer of 2010 I realized I really needed to step away from work to dedicate time to healing. I was blessed to have enough savings to do so. And I had begun working weekly that year with a therapist who specialized in anxiety disorders, which, in my case, turned out to be the result of very early life and pervasive developmental trauma. Which was triggered by my return to the US in July 2009 after living and working in London for four years. Welcome home...not!

The hopeful bit here is that my therapist was certified in and practiced Somatic Experiencing methodology, which actually retrains the nervous system away from old patterns into new healthy patterns. With twenty years of experience behind her, she was exactly what I needed.

And so the year 2011 began:

 January

January

January brought a silent retreat, my first experience with process painting (I'll write about this some day), a trip with friend Linda to visit friend Jeanette who lived north of Chicago, where I had my first walk ever across a frozen lake. We spent a day in Chicago, the city of my birth, having lunch with my aunt and uncle, popping over to Navy Pier and Millennium Park, with Lake Michigan ever in view. We also spent a bit of time on the Magnificent Mile, and took the El back to near my uncle's home, where our car was parked. My friends indulged me by stopping in at the corner tavern for a beer. This was the area of my roots, where my parents grew up, met, fell in love, married, started a family.

As always, I felt the energy of the city.

 February

February

February was spent in Costa Rica, which you can read about here.

 March

March

In March, I visited my stepdaughter Annie in Phoenix. We took a side trip up to the Grand Canyon, which I'd never seen  in person. I loved learning about the geological history of the place. Imagine the impact of a trickle of water that became a river that created this grand canyon, With its now (for me) identifiable layer upon layer of sediment turned stone.

I took some time on my own, hiking down to a spot where I sat and soaked up the beauty of this immense space. I'd brought my journal and water color pencils and lingered, capturing my experience as best as I could.

I recall the silence, pure silence. The sun on my face, the stunning beauty of my surroundings.

God is good, nature is incredible.

 April

April

April. Oh, April! I could write a book about you! From the US to London to Jordan to Israel back to Jordan back to London (on the day of Will and Kate's wedding!) then back to the US, this was the trip of trips. I actually created a spreadsheet to help me pack, because:

  • I was visiting in London before and after my other travels, and it was forecasted to be cold. 
  • I was trekking in Jordan for a week - to Petra - and I had a standard trekking "kit" that had to fit in a certain camping bag and backpack/rucksack. I would leave my large suitcase in London.
  • I was touring in Israel for 9 days immediately after the trek, and the clothes for that time also had to fit in my camping bag. Thankfully the weather in Israel at that time of year is typically mild, and I would also be able to wear some of my trekking clothes. After I thoroughly laundered them.

There's so much to share about this trip that I won't even try right now. Except to say that on the very last morning in Jordan, I developed traveler's sickness. Not too bad at first, and I was able to go with my bestie Anjana that evening into London and to Buckingham Palace. There were hundreds of people around, still celebrating the wedding festivities, and the mood was so happy and light. I keep London newspapers from that day as keepsakes.

Unfortunately, by the day of my return to the US, I felt so sick that I could barely move. My heart goes out to ANYONE who has ever had to travel ill. At the stopover in Chicago I was able to buy Pepto Bismal and Dramamine, which eased my discomfort just enough for the last leg home. Some days later I began to feel better. 

Just in time to succumb to severe reverse culture shock.

 May

May

I spent most of the month of May reeling from the reverse culture shock, thankful to return to weekly trauma recovery therapy. Devoid of energy, I filled the pool in my backyard, blew up my raft, and floated the time away, easing slowly back into the reality of being back in the US.

Originally, when I started my sabbatical, I thought I would give myself six months, Somewhere in April I released that expectation. I was glad I did, because the end of May brought an unexpected and significant change. My father, married now for almost eighteen years to his second wife (my mother having died in 1991), had to separate from her due to health issues they each suffered, leaving them unable to care for each other. Just like that my in-town siblings and I became responsible for him and his many needs.

Short story - a major adjustment all around, with temporary accomodations for Dad at my sister's house.  

 June

June

Early in the year, I had talked with my younger sister Maureen about what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Turned out that we both had the same thing in mind: an Alaskan cruise with all six sisters. And since she lived near Seattle, WA, it was fairly uncomplicated to arrange. And so, in early June, Kathleen, MarySue, myself, Maureen, Terez and Laura all gathered at Maureen's and we celebrated her birthday in style.

On a side note, Maureen had recently recovered from her last of many reconstructive surgeries after removal of an acoustic neuroma in 2006. She lived with chronic tinnitus, dis-equilibrium, left sided deafness, left eyelid and facial paralysis (partially corrected with the reconstructive surgeries). We hoped this would be a celebration also of her healing. But while the "outside" was sorted, her emotional and mental well being suffered, neglected. We would learn more about this on the cruise.

Leaving Terez and Laura in Seattle, the rest of us boarded the ship and enjoyed each other's company and the amenities and outstanding natural beauty of the cruise. Kathleen and I experienced sea sickness, and her skin color was actually almost green before she gave in and used medicine. Curiously, Maureen did not suffer from it... we joked that her dis-equilibrium countered the rolling of the ship.

We chose various excursions, during which  Maureen and I watched a sperm whale dive out of and back into the water, an maneuver called breaching. Later, on another excursion, Kathleen and I would be delighted watching killer whales breach again and again.

The month ended with me back home, deeply concerned for my beloved sister Maureen, wondering what I could do to help her. As well as continuing in my own healing journey and helping find Dad a permanent place to live.

 July

July

July - wow, how do I explain this?

Easy part first. Thunderstorms - my very favorite weather.

Hard part second. I had been referred for adjunctive therapy with a very qualified local hypnotherapist (note the inclusion of the word therapist, so not just a hypnotist). In my first session I had the most unique experience of my life. Enough said. For now. In two subsequent sessions, we made what we agreed was great progress, even doing what is called breath work.

What I didn't understand at the time is that it was actually way too much way too soon.

 August

August

I spent the month of August mostly in shock, severe depression and anxiety, longing to be back in London where I had been so happy. And also in therapy, often twice a week. My Somatic Experiencing therapist had been on holiday while I was seeing the hypnotherapist, and when she learned that we'd done breath work, she explained that my nervous system was not ready for it.

The end result was actually a re-traumatization. Well, shit...

 September

September

September would bring a much needed respite. My friend Sheila (from our Costa Rican adventure), invited me to visit her in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We timed the trip for peak foliage. However, due to the weather conditions there, the color green still predominated. On the bright side, she had a house on Lake Winnipesaukee, and we spent several lovely days and nights there. It was warm enough to lie out in the sun and swim in the crystal clear COLD water - so refreshing for my body and soul. One evening we sat out, watching the sunset, lingering as the sky turned more beautiful by the moment, reflecting perfectly in the still water. 

We also traveled into Vermont and up into Maine so I could have my first Maine lobster (actually two firsts - Maine, and lobster). Check that off my list of things to do. 

 October

October

October found me on retreat again at Shantivanum (Sanskrit for Forest of Peace). Beautiful wooded farmland, rolling hills, regular prayer and meditation times and homemade vegetarian fare deeply nourished both my body and my soul. I painted, journaled, slept, hiked, slept, slept, slept. 

And decided I was ready to go back to work.

 November

November

I have always been blessed in my work life, essentially being recruited at every turning point into something different that would add to the foundation laid by previous job experiences. And so in November, I began contracting with a consulting firm, traveling most weeks to the client site. Figuring by this time that I would not be moving back to London in the foreseeable future, I adopted a sweet ten year old black cat named Shadow. Shy and affectionate at the same time, she was good company to have around when I was home, and she managed ok by herself when I wasn't.

That's the great thing about cats.

 December

December

December, still traveling, getting worn out, developing bronchitis. I was so determined to have a Christmas tree, that when I bought one, I also bought a new Christmas tree stand, and asked the guys to place the tree in the stand for me. I hauled it like that into my house, and filled the stand with water. That might have been the year that the only decorations on the tree were the lights. It was still beautiful, and it smelled so good. The year ended with me on a two week holiday, thankful that as a contractor I was not limited by the company's vacation policy.

It also ended with me learning that I would likely be moving to the Middle East in a few months for a one year contract.

Surprise!

And so, having pre-proclaimed "A Bit of Heaven in 2011" and definitely having experienced lots of bits of heaven, I also encountered a good number of hellish experiences. But isn't life like that sometimes? We may be doing fine and suddenly without warning be knocked sideways with unexpected news, illness, etc. By the same token, we may experience unexpected grace, blessings, growth.

When all was said and done, 2011 certainly went down as one of the most remarkable years of my life.

I learned much, I suffered much, I learned more, I healed some more.

And I got ready for 2012.

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The Best Travel Story Ever

This, my favorite travel story ever, has been on my mind lately. I think you'll enjoy it.

Let me set the scene for you: Harrogate, England, 2008. I was there on business, staying in a lovely hotel, in a first floor (that's second floor to you Americans) room just off the grand staircase down to the lobby. It was 7:00am, I had just returned from my morning walk, and was ready to shower.

There was a knock on my door. Curious.

When I opened the door, there stood in front of me an elderly woman, a bit overweight, and stark naked. Shocked, I could barely listen to her as I rushed her into my room and pulled the bed cover off the bed so I could cover her. Only then could I concentrate on what she was saying.

She didn't want to be a bother, and would I just please call down to the lobby and ask someone to come unlock room 135 for her? She had accidentally locked herself out.

Didn't want to be a bother?!?!?!?

I called to the desk, made the request, and proceeded to escort her, now covered, back to her room. I noticed how she walked bent over with a limp, her toenails thickened and curled. She mentioned that she was "83 years old, you know" in her lovely British accent.

She then explained that she and her husband were checking out and he had gone on ahead. Their room had a small antechamber where their packed luggage stood, and she was trying to reach out for her suitcase when the door closed - and locked - behind her.

Buck naked, with no alternative, she had begun to walk down the hall, knocking at each door, hoping someone would be in. I counted. Twelve doors. I tried to image myself in her shoes. Or, rather, not in her shoes because she was naked. I couldn't fathom it…

Remember how I said mine was the door closest to the grand staircase?

What if I hadn't answered? Oh, I'm so glad I answered!

Anyway, when we arrived at her room, I saw what she meant, that there was a bit of a foyer with its own door before the door to the actual room. Standing in that space the two aforementioned suitcases.

Someone arrived with the key and unlocked the door, my new friend and I expressing profuse thanks. Once in her room and in her robe she returned the bed cover to me with words of thanks.

A bit later, back in my own room, now showered and dressed, I heard another knock on the door. I thought to myself "what is going on today?" as I opened it.

There in front of me stood a beautiful and dignified elderly women, impeccably dressed and coiffed, and leaning very slightly on an elegant cane. "THIS" she said proudly with a cheeky grin, "is what I look like with clothes ON."

Oh how I love Brits.

PS - and yes I made it to Betty's Tea House while I was there, for those of you who might wonder.

 

Do you have any great travel stories to share? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

 

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Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go

Just as it takes a village to raise a child (and in my family, a village to help my 90 year old still relatively independent father), so too it takes a village to run a business. I am the owner of Abundance Art, and I do not have any employees. I do however have an amazing village. From my business development consultant to my life coach, graphic designer, marketing agent, accounting peeps, attorney, non paid helper bees and connected family and friends, that's still only part of it.

I am blessed with participation in a Holistic Mastermind group for female entrepreneurs, facilitated by Monique Alvarez of Monique Alvarez Enterprises during weekly online conference calls. In addition to those invaluable folks mentioned above, my co-sojourners in entrepreneurial adventures round out my tribe, my team. Monique teaches, pushes, guides, admonishes, comforts, pushes, pushes, pushes us to grow. Outside the box. Outside our comfort zones. She grooms us to be leaders, changers. And since I believe that what I do can change the world, I'm in for the ride.

Sometimes I'm so pumped I feel like I can do anything and everything. Other times I just want to curl up in a ball in my bed. Like today. Even as I took notes regarding the upcoming week's assignment/steps to increase my business' online/social media presence (I thought I had that covered!), here's what showed up on the screen in front of me:

  • This feels overwhelming to me!!! Hello, overwhelm. Let's go slow with this. Baby steps.

  • Feels like too much. Can I get "comfortable" with being uncomfortable? People will either love me or leave me. Vulnerable!

Then Monique said something. She reminded us that it is safe to change, it's safe to lose old friends and connections as we grow, and it's safe to be open to making new ones. It's part of the natural order to achieve the extraordinary. And I would say that my intention of nourishing the world with what nourishes me is an extraordinary vision and mission indeed.

This of course doesn't mean saying goodbye to everybody I know and love. It means letting go of those who choose to unfriend or stop following me on social media because I post so much. Spoiler alert - I'm going to start posting MORE (yikes!). In today's social media mania world, it turns out that it takes up to seven times and six different social media places for people to "see" the message. No wonder I feel overwhelmed - the world's gone crazy! Seriously, I think it's wonky that this is the way it is. And yet… it is what it is.

Thankfully, I'm established on Instagram, which is said to be the best place to be for the time being. One account for my business in general - Abundance Art, and one just for Maitri, my all white quirky deaf cat who is writing her memweowr (really!). You can also learn more about her here on the website. I would LOVE for you to follow each Instagram account and share with friends. But I digress... or do I?

Anyway, the focus of today's meeting was to learn more about how to leverage Instagram and how best to use hashtags and networking to grow a following to 10k. Plus how to increase visibility in Facebook for networking purposes. Oh, the whole idea of course is to generate income from the business. Like. Now. And this just hit me like a ton of bricks because I've taken the recommended steps and have the social media accounts and post regularly and offer online store promotions especially for joining my mailing list. I love the international connections and dialogue all four of the Instagram and Facebook accounts generate. And it will feel REALLY amazing when people make purchases and money flows in and I earn a very good living. In the meantime, I learn, I strategize, I implement. With help and support. I am here to learn, I am here to teach. I am here to receive, I am here to give. I keep working at this truth because I believe passionately that the world is hungry for what I have to give. Another truth is that today I just feel really discouraged.

Monique ended the virtual meeting with the encouraging words "Let's have a blow out week!" and everyone waved and said goodbye. As soon as I clicked "Leave Meeting" I started crying. I actually cried out loud "I don't want to have a blow out week!" I put down my laptop and cried and cried and cried. Then I sat quietly for a while, with that hicuppy half cry in my throat. I looked outside. I sat.

After a while, I found myself picking up my laptop. I messaged Monique with my overwhelmedness as well as my determination, and started on my assignment. Just a few small tasks today. Baby steps are very therapeutic. Then just let it go for now…  which reminded me of a song I wrote years ago when I felt completely overwhelmed and out of control on a huge computer software conversion project I was leading.

Out of all that came the desire to write this blog. And share the lyrics to Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go, sung to the tune of Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. So here goes...

Oh the project plan is frightful and the deadlines are not delightful.

I've lost all control…

Let it go, let it go, let it go!

 

It doesn't show signs of stopping; my arteries will start popping.

But before they blow…

Let it go, let it go, let it go!

 

When we finally do convert, I will see that I am still alive.

Though I may be a little bit burnt, I certainly will survive.

 

Sooo, let's get back to work now, won't be a grumpy jerk now.

I'll go with the flow…

And let it go, let it go, let it go!

I'm letting it go for now, for today. I'm going to do something really nourishing for my soul, haven't decided what yet. Oh, and by the way, Monique messaged me back as I was typing this blog. She wrote "You are a champion and a leader and a beacon of light" with a double heart emoji.

Thank you Monique. I needed that. :)

What a great tribe. 

 

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Introducing Maitri

Hello world!

Today I introduce you to Maitri. She's my exotically beautiful white cat with a lingering hint of blue in one eye, the other golden. I call her my Zen kitty; in fact, in Sanskrit, her name means unconditional loving kindness, and that really fits her. Calm, curious, friendly, patient, mellow (mostly), very much living in the moment. Intentional and determined, with a plush coat of fur made for petting… when she's in the mood. People not particularly fond of cats like her. People fond of cats love her. She has just now started purring at the age of three… what a pleasant discovery!

That said, she's deaf, and often her primitive ancestry takes over her inner quiet with a full range of roaring meows and antics that entertain and sometimes startle, especially in the night. She makes me laugh out loud. Every day.

I adopted her one week after I adopted Lucy, my young black and white beauty. This was in Doha, Qatar, 2012. I had Lucy at the vet for her one week post adoption check up, and I stood near a cage housing kittens for adoption. All of a sudden the door latch came undone, and this adorable white kitten started falling out. Quickly catching her, I looked into her one blue eye and one hazel eye, fell instantly in love,  and said "Oh, you're coming home with me, and your name is Maitri."

Maitri baby kitty.png

Within a few days, I suspected she was deaf, something the vet would confirm at the next visit. As I reflected my disappointment out loud that she would never hear me call her name, the vet's tongue in cheek comment "Oh she'll be able to read lips" cheered me a bit. Still, my sense of loss lingered, so I decided to journal it, and this is what emerged:

I adopted a kitty - named Maitri,

A sweet little white ball of fur.

Unconditional loving kindness

Is what I had in mind for her.

Her eyes, one blue and one hazel

Search my eyes and connect, so I think.

With deep concentration she watches,

Then pokes mine before I can blink.

I'm sad as I think of her deafness…

She'll never know to come when I call.

Yet now as I cry in my grief-ness

She appears, loving kindness and all.

Her playfulness, goofiness delight me;

It's so good to laugh out loud.

Her softness and tiny-ness quiet me;

She's Maitri, loving kindness avowed.

Now, back in Kansas City, we share our home with Kiki, a sleek black indoor/outdoor kitty, who came to live with us in spring of 2014. Because Maitri is deaf, it's not safe for her to be out and about on her own. But she clearly communicates her desire to do so by standing at the door and offering anything from persistent plaintive mews to proclaiming her loud ME-OUTs. Our compromise?  Harness and leash. A longer leash for the backyard, a shorter one for our walks. Yes. For our walks. It's really quite fascinating to watch her explore her world, remembering that she cannot hear the birds, or the kids playing, or (yikes!) the cars. She and Kiki have made names for themselves in the neighborhood, and I'm known as the lady who walks her cats: Maitri on a leash, Kiki walking beside… or behind… or in front… or not at all. And Lucy? Inside, please and thank you.

Maitri  has the best stories to tell, and she is in the process of writing her memweowr. Seriously. OK, it's really me. Using her character as first person. But this is the only time I'll say it.

In her Maitri's Memweowr Instagram account, she tells tales of her life and that of her human and catpanions. She teaches mindfulness and stillness, provides insightful observations, writes poems, and is featured, along with Lucy and Kiki in short videos. Her following is growing, which is cool, because she wants to spread her unconditional loving kindness - and her quirkiness - all over the world.

Every Instagram post is also shared to her Facebook Fan Club page, and she's got YouTube on her mind for the future. She just needs to figure out the best way to get there and stay there. She might decide to ask another human for help. 

Maitri Facebook.png

Oh, and another thing: mosaics. Maitri Mosaics. This kitty has a tendency to knock things over for fun. In my undecorated Doha flat I gave her, among other toys, a bowl and plastic balls to play with and we brought those back to KC. So, I didn't think twice when unpacking decorative items from my year-away storage.

Her curiosity and resourcefulness stunned me.

I learned the hard way, too late to save the Moroccan vase and the Norwegian glass plate featuring a beautiful abstract of green and red Aurora Borealis against a sky of cobalt blue (my 50th birthday present being a trip to see the northern  lights in person - and I did!). Plus some other pieces here and there. Finally I discovered Quakehold, museum putty designed to protect fine furnishings against the rumblings of earthquakes. Or in my case, cat-quakes. If you come to my home, you will see globs of the stuff securing photo frames, candle holders, knick knacks, and anything else Maitri-worthy. Including the mosaic plate I made out of the pieces of my Norwegian plate. There are more Maitri Mosaics to come, as I've kept the bits and pieces along the way. Plus I dropped a dish one day... 

Maitri Mosaic.jpg

So. That's Maitri, unconditional loving kindness. And quirkiness and fun. But don't take my word for it. She likes you already and invites you to like her back, and follow her life journey and reflections on Instagram or Facebook. No obligation, of course, because her love and kindness are unconditional.

Is she cool or what?

Me-out

Maitri/Annette

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Yet Another Visit to the ED AKA Life for Me Right Now

Spoiler alert: this blog contains a bit of swearing. I was so frustrated I wanted to title it "f***ing healthcare regulations regarding controlled substances."

I changed my mind after I calmed down. 

OK. What you need to know to start is that, at least in the state of Kansas USA, a narcotics prescription cannot be phoned, faxed, or otherwise transmitted electronically from doctor to pharmacy. It has to be generated on paper, hand delivered to the patient who in turn hand delivers it to the pharmacy.  All that clinical informatics technology meant to make patient care easier and safer sits unused on its server.

That said, here's my story as it unfolded back in early summer 2015:

On late Friday, I realize too late that I do not have enough Percocet (for my ongoing moderately severe abdominal/pelvic pain) to see me through the weekend and most of Monday, which is how long it will take to get a new hand written prescription.

I remember a similar situation after my gallbladder surgery in January and being told by my surgeons's office assistant that I should go to urgent care. So I decide to do that in the morning.

Next day, while I wait at urgent care, a man collapses in the parking lot, requiring CPR and paramedics and full resuscitation efforts, then he's off to the hospital in an ambulance. I share my observations about that in I Choose Life. I Choose Love.

Back in the waiting room after the drama, I certainly don't begrudge the delay. I understand - that's life. At least for me… I'm worried about that poor guy making it.

So patiently I wait, and finally my name is called and the nurse explains to me that the urgent care doctor does not prescribe narcotics. Well shit. What a waste of time, and I was really meant to be painting right now. Then again, perhaps I was meant to be right where I was when I was. 

I start crying as I walk to my car, realizing that between my pain and disappointment and the intensity of what just happened, I need some time to process. So I sit in my car and cry for a while, shake a bit, and I feel better.

I call my doctor's answering service, requesting the on-call physician to contact me, which he does pretty quickly. However because of the regulations requiring a paper prescription, he cannot help me. He tells me if I had come to the doctors office that morning they could have helped me. Well shit, I didn't realize they had Saturday morning clinic, and I drove right past it on my way to urgent care where I waited for two hours when I could have just walked in to my own doctor's office and be home painting by now. Live and learn. Sigh.

So what are my options I ask. He says you can try urgent care. Laugh out loud. Ironically. He says you can call your G.I. specialist, maybe they can help you. I tell him they do not prescribe pain medications, they leave that to primary care.

He says my only other option is to go to the emergency room. Well shit. Just yesterday I was hoping I might get through May without having to go to there. 

First things first. I go to Steak and Shake and comfort myself with a chocolate shake. My frustration is softening and maybe all things are as they should be and it will all work out ok.

And it does. From the ED I receive immediate pain relief along with a prescription for enough Percocet until my GYN surgeon appointment a few days later.

At said appointment, the surgeon and I agree that a hysterectomy is a reasonable plan, especially given all that I've been through in the preceding months and all that has been ruled out through extensive testing. Because the procedure will be done using the laparoscopic robotic approach, and because that particular OR is in high demand, my surgery won't be till June 18th. In the meantime, I have weekly appointments for pain monitoring, during which he gives me that little piece of paper (aka prescription) that allows the pharmacist to give me just enough Percocet to see me through till next week's appointment.

LOL - No I am not a drug seeking junky, though I am reminded of pregnant women nearing term who have weekly appointments. Certainly I'm giving birth to something through all this…

By now, I'm in the final days of preparing for my first painting exhibit. One morning I awaken with a painful mass on the left side of my neck. Rather than spending a few precious hours with last minute painting, I am at the doctor's office, and then the hospital for urgent outpatient CT scan. Clearly I am not meant to paint those 3x3s and 5x5s and 5x7s. At least not yet.

The next day, as pain and nausea meds - and antibiotics for a parotid gland infection - contrive to make me loopy as can be, I am whisked off to an urgent ENT referral by my friend Jeanette who has come to town to help me with the exhibit. The ENT tells us that in his thirty years of practice, he has never seen anything like my CT results: a multitude of small tracts of air dispersed throughout the gland. It would seem that, at least right now, I am an airhead. Never been called that before. The antibiotics ought to do the trick. Whew.

The following morning I awaken to a rainy thunderstormy day - aaahhhh…. my very VERY favorite weather, and my soul is delighted. A chorus pops into my mind to the tune of "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'", and I greet Jeanette singing:

My parotid gland has an infection,

And my nausea seems here to stay.

The pain in my pelvis just keeps getting worse,

But outside it's a stormy kind of day…

 

Oh what a beautiful morning,

Oh what a beautiful day,

I've got a wonderful feeling

Everything's going my way.*

 

She knows me well enough to know I'm not insane. God bless Jeanette :)

The exhibit is a hit and I spend the next week in bed, recovering and resting up for my surgery adventure just around the corner. My neck mass resolves and all is right enough in my world.

That's my life right now. So…how do I wrap this up? By noticing what I am loving as I type (and noticing that I can't figure out how to make the font size of the following bullet list the same as the rest of this blog, and that's ok):

  • I love that I'm able to acknowledge my frustrations and not be bound by them.

  • I love my family and friends and colleagues and how they are showing up for me.

  • I love my three cats and how they each have their own personalities, and how they make me laugh each and every day. Oh, and how they show their affection and, yes, love.

  • I love the gift of creativity, the abundance of ideas for growing my business, and the means to move them forward.

  • I love that I can go slow, set my own pace.

  • I love that I can work in bed, that I can be good to my body as it sorts through this immense journey of release and healing.

  • I love that I'm able to see my current dis-ease with compassion and curiosity, trusting that somehow it too has its place.

  • I love that I have access to whatever health care I need.

  • I love that my all my needs and desires are met and exceeded.

  • I love that I look forward to my future, that I am curious and excited to see what unfolds.

 

All things are as they should be.

Namaste,

Annette

 

*Adapted from "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'"

Music by Richard Rodgers, lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II

Copyright © 1943 by Williamson Musi

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